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Lecture

Week 12 Lecture Note


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCC26H3
Professor
John Hannigan

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Last week - spectacular consumption trying to replicate Las Vegas and Disney theme
parks
This notion of spectacular consumption also covered cultural attractions art
galleries, opera houses
Cultural dimension of spectacular consumption
Cities have always on the one hand recognized that for a variety of reasons, its
important to have cultural attractions
When talking about cultural here, cultural especially in the past is meant to be high
culture (opera)
Culture is restricted to those high culture users
Whats been built in the past has involved the high end
If you look where money goes, the bulk of money that flows from federal/provincial
government to cultural attractions basically goes to a handful of large cultural
organizations and attractions (i.e. the art gallery of Ontario, royal Ontario museum,
COC, national ballet of Canada, Stratford festival, Shaw festival amongst them the big
cultural attractions got billions of dollars from government)
If you look at buildings that exist in cities, by in large they tend to be concentrated in
downtown in the urban core
If you look at the new buildings in Toronto and talking about the Four Seasons Centre
for Performance Arts, talking about the renovations to AGO and ROM
As part of what were talking about last time looking to reinvigorating cities through
spectacular consumption, part of that involved constructing cultural buildings that were
seen as architecturally spectacular and will draw people (tourists)
There arent any tax dollars flown from manufacturing anymore and is shifting to a
service economy, then what you have to do is build something that will attract tourists
that help brand your city
Guggenheim Bilbao (architect: Frank Gehry)
oA declining port city located in the north of Spain
o20 years ago, not many put Bilbao on their itinerary
oTheres nothing in Bilbao that would attract anybody
oBut then it was decided that Bilbao had to be revitalized, and had to do something to
put Bilbao on the global map in terms of culture
oDecided to build a museum rather than the Bilbao museum of art, what they
would do is basically sell a franchise
oIn 1980s and 90s, the well known museums are selling franchises and were going to
leverage their names that are well known
oOne of the well known ones are Guggenheim Bilbao
oThen they decided they would have to do something else, a building that was so
spectacular and talked about that people had to see it
oAs a result, they approached architect Frank Gehry = Canadian, was born here in
downtown Toronto, grew up in the neighbourhood couple blocks away from where
the Art Gallery of Ontario is located
oWas quite meaningful when he was asked to design AGO
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oGrew up in relatively poor economic circumstances
oGuggenheim Bilbao succeeded beyond expectations
oHe wrapped it in titanium and had all kinds of curves, which was one of Gehrys
architecture
oThey hit a jackpot with this
oIt started to appear in travel magazines/websites, travel section of newspapers
oSoon, that image seemed to be everywhere
o if you build it, they will come and in this case, they came
oThey put all their marbles in building a spectacular building and inside there was no
art
oThey needed to catch up putting a collection of art inside these years
oBasically, it didnt have its own collection of art, but that didnt matter because
people didnt come to see the art inside but to see the building outside
oThis is a trend
One more architect said eye-popping architecture + cultural attractions = more
tourists
You have imitation and local planners and politicians and said we can do this
So another museum that others took was Tate Modern Gallery (London) = more
traditional types of art landscape
Idea was to build a whole new museum on a power plant and make it a showcase for
modern art
The case of Tate Modern was not just about the architecture but was about what has
been done inside and changed it into an art gallery
So Tate Modern was a success, and it began to roll out their brands
Built Tate Liverpool
In the advertising world, they talk about brand extension = brand that they identify
with and extend it
So Tate Liverpool was a way of brand extension
5 years ago, the idea was to extend a brand, extending cultural brands that are already
popular
The other part is engaging well known and award winning architects to put up iconic
buildings
This became particularly around the turn of the millennium, became the age of the
starchitect = star + architect
There are a handful of them and are well known worldwide
Designed an iconic building in London named the Pickle
Daniel Liebeskind had become put well known for the design of the Jewish museum
in Berlin
When the ROM decided to extend their brand, then they decided to engage Daniel
Liebeskind to design a new front to the museum on Bloor street that became nicknamed
the crystal
It sounded like a good idea, at least when they started the project
The original idea was based on one of the great museums in Louvre (Paris)
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